The waning moon drifted high in the sky, its icy reflection shimmering across the ocean. The beach was quiet. Even the waves that gently rolled up to the shore before slipping out again seemed to not want to distract me from this haze. A tiny seashell danced in a puddle left behind by the waves, chalky white against the backdrop of dark, cold sand.
Somewhere on the horizon was the city where my father and his people searched for us, no doubt. It would take them hours to get this far, which was just as well because I couldn't move. My body felt so heavy. Like I could sleep for days and still not want to wake up. Laurence's blood covered my clothes, glistening in the moonlight and reeking of death. I swallowed down a lump in my throat. Death. He'd nearly died. Darius... my father... had almost killed him. But somehow, by some way that I still couldn't fully comprehend, he didn't die.
I dug my hands into the beach, letting the sand roll over my fingers. Fingers that I had somehow used to heal Laurence. I couldn't look at them. Not because of the miracle they had performed, but rather because of the power I realised they held. Power that my father wanted nothing more than to harness. It all made sense now. The training. The mind games. Everything Darius had done to either bribe or manipulate me was a ploy to try and force this power to manifest. Power that I didn't even remember I had… That I simply didn't understand.
Laughter brought me back to the beach. Very much alive, Laurence stood some distance away, checking himself over and chuckling at the worried nudges of his dragon as she sought his reassurance.
"I'm alright." His voice carried over the sand as he stroked her on the nose. "Thank you. You saved us, Sienna."
I pulled my legs into my chest, glancing back in the direction of the city. The warehouse. I knew I had no other choice. For the sake of Laurence, I had to go back. I felt his footsteps that approached me and I caught a glimpse of his perfectly healed body, still caked in his own blood. He sat down beside me and wrapped his arm around my shoulders before planting a kiss on the side of my head.
"We need to get you into hiding, Kaida," he whispered. "Get you away from your father. Figure out this incredible gift you still have."
But I shook my head, unable to rid it of the way he had looked at me in the warehouse. I wasn't normal. I was something else. Something not human and not dragon.
"I can't. He will find me. Darius is everywhere," I said. "And besides, in case you haven't noticed I'm a wanted crim-"
He cut off my objections with a long, lingering kiss. One that was determined to break down every wall I had put up around me and build new ones... Around us. Together. As a couple.
"You can't become what he wants you to be," he said when we finally came up for air. "We'll find another way. We'll figure it all out. A new identity. Your gift. We'll do this together. I love you Kaida Lance."
I felt something different whirring in me, fighting to break through the turmoil that spilled through my mind and heart. It was feeling that maybe I wasn't as alone in this as I had thought. Could we really do it? Could we really be together and survive? This feeling that was whirring in me... The churning in my gut that begged me to give it a try. To give us a try. It was hope...
But it wasn't enough just yet, and that deep, dark demon that held us apart came crashing back into my mind with a vengeance; ripping the wings off the tiny fledgling of hope before it even had a chance to fly.
"Laurence, don't!" My shout even caught me off guard and I pulled away from him, out of his reach. I ignored the sudden hurt in his eyes. "It's too dangerous."
Getting to my feet I brushed the sand from my legs and stole another glance at the city. As though I expected Darius and his men to be creeping over those dunes at any second. Laurence rose to meet me and I glared at him and his beautiful silhouette in the moonlight. His hair that waved wildly like a fire in the breeze and eyes that had that ability to see into everything. I followed his gaze to my dark uniform and the glint of his own blood.
"You risk your life every time you defy him," I said. "You yourself know how huge Darius is. If I go back and by some miracle set things right, then I am next in line to inherit this organisation. It's the only way it can go down."
But he was set on fighting me. "He will change you. I've seen it. He will try and harness this gift. Bend it to his will."
"Maybe it's for the better then," I said, causing him to recoil. "Maybe it's better that I stay away from you. I'm not a good person, Laurence. It's in my blood. I will always be the bad guy."
I leaned over, kissing him quickly before turning and making my way back through the sand dunes.